Freeze/thaw causing slides

UPDATE: 2:30 p.m.

Those looking to bypass the Highway 97 closure just north of Summerland should avoid Garnet Valley and Garnet Lake roads, despite what Google Maps says. 

Conservation Officer Mike Stern says he had to turn around a convoy of motorists looking to bypass the highway closure Saturday morning.  

"It's more of an ATV trail than anything ... it's not passable," Stern said.

"I went in there to do a patrol earlier and there was a convoy of about 20 vehicles trying to go through and I had to turn them around because they're going to hit snow, and the road is treacherous even in the summertime."

Stern says he's heard that people on Facebook are offering up the road as an alternative. 

"They're going to get stuck and it's dangerous, but people don't want to listen," he said. "I saw cars heading in there and there's snow on the trail."

He's reached out to the cities of Peachland and Summerland in the hopes they will put someone on either end of the road to stop people from attempting the road. 

"It shows up on Google Maps that it's a route but you can't rely on Google Maps to get you anywhere," Stern said.

DriveBC suggests a detour route through through the Okanagan Connector, south on Highway 5A to Princeton and then east on Highway 3 and 3A.

The length of the Highway 97 closure is unknown at this time. Crews are on scene now preparing to blast the rock, before removing it from the highway.

UPDATE: 1:25 p.m.

The rocks that keep falling onto Highway 97 near Callan Road, between Summerland and Peachland, have been caused by freezing and thawing conditions, according to the province.

After large boulders came crashing onto Highway 97 Thursday evening, the highway was reopened to single lane traffic later that night, but the danger hadn't yet passed.

Saturday morning at 5:30 a.m., more rock and debris fell across the highway, but one lane remained open in each direction. At 7:45 a.m., a much larger slide came down and covered all four lanes of traffic. This latest slide was caught on a dashcam, the footage of which can be seen above.

Luckily, no one was injured in any of the slides. 

The highway remains closed in both directions, and B.C.'s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure does not have an estimate of when it may open.

“Our geotechnical engineers and rock scaling crew are on site,” said Jamie Weiss, communications with the Ministry of Transportation. “Signifiant work will be required, and there is no current estimated time for reopening."

Earlier Saturday, MLA Dan Ashton said the closure could remain in place for another 24 hours.

UPDATE: 11:30 a.m.

It could be a full 24 hours before Highway 97 between Peachland and Summerland reopens. 

Penticton MLA Dan Ashton posted to Facebook Saturday morning, saying more rock still needs to be brought down in the area to make it safe.

After large boulders fell onto the highway Thursday evening, two more slides occurred Saturday morning, forcing the closure. 

Ashton says the highway could remain closed for another 24 hours. 

UPDATE: 9:50 a.m.

A man who saw part of the mountain fall down on Highway 97 says the rockslide was "quite nasty."

At about 8 a.m. Saturday morning, Dean Pratley was driving south on Highway 97, when he was stopped by road crews. He said the road looked "absolutely pristine" after the rockslide Thursday night, but that didn't last long. 

Dashcam video from Pratley's van shows a huge section of the mountain falling across the highway, as motorists look on.

"I think the guy at the front of the line was really nervous, he wanted to get out of there as quick as possible," Pratley said. "We didn't know if it was going to come down closer to us as well."

Highway 97 remains closed in both directions. 

ORIGINAL: 8:30 a.m.

Highway 97 north of Summerland has once again been closed due to falling rocks.

After large boulders, some larger than vehicles, came crashing down across Highway 97 Thursday night, it appears a similar incident has closed the highway again near the first. 

Saturday morning, the stretch of highway has been closed from Callan Road to North Beach Road, about five kilometres north of Summerland. 

DriveBC says a geotechnical engineer is en route to the area to assess the situation, but as of 8:15 a.m., the highway is closed in both directions. 

Photos from the scene show a large amount of rock has fully covered the southbound lanes of the highway. 

It's unclear when the highway will be reopened, but DriveBC says they won't have an update on the situation until noon. 

Ministry of Transportation crews spent all day Friday working to clean up the rocks that had fallen on the road Thursday night. 

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